[00:00:00] James Marland: thanks for joining us for the Scaling Therapy Practice. This is James Marlon. Today I have a special guest, Michael Ashford. We're gonna be talking about the receptionist, a product or a service that he represents.
[00:00:14] James Marland: But first, let me tell you a little bit about Michael. Uh, Michael's currently the director of Marketing at the Receptionist in Denver, Colorado. And has spent the past decade building and learning marketing teams and at companies large and small. Prior to his career in Mar marketing, Michael was an award-winning journalist.
[00:00:32] James Marland: After graduating from Kansas State University, Michael's approach to marketing focuses on scaling companies through the power of storytelling and humanizing brands. That's awesome. Welcome to the show, Michael.
[00:00:46] Michael Ashford: James, thanks so much for having me. It is a pleasure to be here with you and I am humbled and honored that you would invite me onto the show.
[00:00:52] Michael Ashford: So looking forward to the conversation. So
[00:00:54] James Marland: what's, what's the weather like in Colorado these days? In, uh, February?
[00:00:59] Michael Ashford: Well, you know, February and March tend to be our snowiest months. Okay. Um, December and January were really snowy. So I'm a little bit nervous about what, what, uh, March is gonna hold for us as we record this on March 1st.
[00:01:14] Michael Ashford: But, uh, right now, I mean, it's, it's chilly, but not too bad. But, uh, yeah, you never know what here in Denver,
[00:01:21] James Marland: what's the largest snowfall you've experienced living out?
[00:01:27] Michael Ashford: Since I moved out here, uh, the first year my family and I moved out here, we had a 14 inch snowfall. Okay. Um, down here in the city. Now the mountains get a lot more Okay.
[00:01:37] Michael Ashford: But 14 inches was the most snow I'd ever seen in my life.
[00:01:42] James Marland: so, so this year I think we've had an inch in Southern Pennsylvania, so not, oh my gosh. Hardly anything. Yeah. But when I lived in, that's great. Yeah, it's very rare. Normally we get one or two good storms that have a couple inches to a foot. Um, when I lived in New York, uh, around the Syracuse area, we got some lake effect Squalls that dumped four or five feet on us.
[00:02:07] James Marland: Now that, that happens once a decade or something where I lived, but we were closed down for a week. It was great as a, as a teenager. Um, it was
[00:02:16] Michael Ashford: a fun time. Oh, Of course, . So you,
[00:02:20] James Marland: you bring a, a lot of experience here, uh, to, to your position and, um, you, so tell, tell us a little bit about some of your, your marketing and your speaking engagements and things that, um, have led, led you, your story that's led you to this point.
[00:02:38] Michael Ashford: Oh goodness. Um, so I was born on a hot summer day in Manhattan. You can't smell .
[00:02:44] James Marland: Well, I'm gonna skip skip a little
[00:02:47] Michael Ashford: further ahead. Yeah. I'll fast forward a little bit, uh, like you, like you read in my bio. Uh, I, I graduated from Kansas State and I was actually a sports journalist, so I, I went to be the sports editor at a day, the newspaper.
[00:02:59] Michael Ashford: And you know, one of the things that I've found, James, is that if you know how to communi. , if you know how to tell a story in the way, you know, and, and that's what a journalist is. They are communicators, they're curious by nature. Um, they, they tell stories. If you can do that, there's a lot of things in this world that you can do professionally.
[00:03:21] Michael Ashford: And for me, I got out of the journalism world when my wife and I got married and we wanted to have a kid, you know, we wanna have family and, um, The hours of a journalist don't lend itself too swell to spending a lot of time with family. And that was not gonna fly with me. So I got into, I went to the project management world at a tech company, worked my way over to the sales side and, and created some roles for myself there.
[00:03:48] Michael Ashford: Uh, and then eventually became the director of marketing at that company about four and a half years in. And ever since then, I've been leading marketing teams, leading and building marketing teams. I've been at. Private equity backed companies that were 150 million a year in revenue. And I've been at, you know, very, very small, you know, just a couple months in startups as the, the first marketing hire.
[00:04:10] Michael Ashford: So, and a little bit of everywhere in between . But, uh, yeah, that, that's the marketing journey. And, and one of the things I, I love about my journey is very early on I was, I was apprehensive about, And leading a marketing team, because I didn't have the, the quote unquote marketing education. Mm-hmm. . But I actually think that served me well.
[00:04:36] Michael Ashford: Um, like I said
[00:04:37] James Marland: earlier, I'm, I'm, yeah. In what way? How did that, how did
[00:04:40] Michael Ashford: that help? Yeah. I'm a curious person by nature. Like I said. Um, . I have a lot of energy, so I've, I've often got my hands in a bunch of other things besides just work. And when you are a curious person who isn't afraid to try things, who isn't afraid to throw something at the wall and say, no, I wonder how, I wonder how this is gonna turn out.
[00:05:03] Michael Ashford: That can lend itself very well to lead, like creating an environment in a marketing team. Fosters creativity that fosters, you know, not always doing things the way that they've always been done. Um, more often than not, you can, you can teach the mechanics of marketing, like how to set up and build an email list or you know, how to, how to set up a, a social media management tool.
[00:05:32] Michael Ashford: Like you can, you can teach the marketing what you can't teach. The curiosity and the want to understand something better and then, then go and create an audience of people who also wanna understand that better or, or learn about that thing. Um, so I, I think that background in journalism and communications has served me well from that standpoint.
[00:05:54] Michael Ashford: I was appre, I, I had what is now called imposter syndrome very early on. Mm-hmm. . And that has completely gone away. . Mm-hmm. , I. I think marketing is so much more than just the tactics of understanding, like the marketing software, if that makes sense.
[00:06:09] James Marland: Yeah. Awesome. So, uh, that's kind of led you, I'm, I'm gonna get to our next segment, but that's led you to some interesting things.
[00:06:20] James Marland: Uh, one of the things you, you've accomplished one of my dreams is, uh, speaking at Ted or at TEDx.
[00:06:26] Michael Ashford: Yes. Uh, yeah, that was absolutely one of my dreams as well, . Um, and, and I've had the, I've had the, the tremendous favor and blessing of giving to actually giving to TEDx talks, uh, that, that flow that flows into the work that I do on the side right now.
[00:06:45] Michael Ashford: Uh, I, I have a podcast called the follow up question where I'm exploring among other things how we find common ground, um, how we communicate. and how we, how we really communicate across disagreement or how we co-create new solutions to big problems by working together rather than trying to force others to change.
[00:07:10] Michael Ashford: So those, those TEDx talks that I did came out of the exploration that I've been on on my show, my personal show. and I've, I've had the chance, an opportunity to talk to some incredible people, James. Mm-hmm. Um, you know, e everyone from, you know, professors and psychologists who study communication and common ground for a living and, and pol polarization.
[00:07:33] Michael Ashford: But I've also found a connection to people. You know, I, I interviewed the, the, the astronomer who led the team that took the first ever picture of a black hole. Like, and, and I was able to, Relate that back to our connectedness as human beings and our, our ability to work together to solve problems like the people that I've had the chance and opportunity to connect with through that show, um, through my work as a marketer, uh, through, through our show at the receptionist called The Fabric Show, which we can get into.
[00:08:08] Michael Ashford: Uh, uh, yeah, it just, it leads to. , it leads to learning things about people and the world that become the impetus to a TEDx talk. And like I said, I've been blessed to give two now and work with that organization, um, to help others. I've been a coach, uh, several times now, uh, a speaker coach several times through TEDx, and that honestly is what I enjoyed more rather than being on stage.
[00:08:35] Michael Ashford: I enjoy helping others bring out their idea.
[00:08:38] James Marland: So that this sounds like it could be a really interesting topic, but we're going to ask you, I'm gonna just put the, the follow up question in the show notes and uh, it sounds very interesting cuz in this world where we are polarized and people don't feel like they're listening to each other and they just.
[00:08:57] James Marland: Give up and, you know, cut out the other people or tune them off or tune them out. Yeah. Uh, this is a, an, it sounds, it sounds very important, it sounds like what the world's needs
[00:09:09] Michael Ashford: to relate it to your audience. Um, one of the things that I'm exploring a lot right now on the show is what I call the psychology of.
[00:09:19] Michael Ashford: Mm. I've, I've talked with a lot of psychologists, a lot of experts in the space, uh, to, to know enough about how and why and, and what precipitates somebody changing that. Mm-hmm. , it's, it's a fascinating thing for therapists to, to know and understand what prompts somebody to change and, and honestly, you.
[00:09:41] Michael Ashford: This may be simplifying it down perhaps a little bit too much, but what is therapy? If not someone asking someone questions to help guide them through a change that they come to a realization themselves. rather than forcing someone to change. If a therapist is forcing someone to change or giving someone direction on how they should change, I question whether that's really therapy.
[00:10:06] Michael Ashford: Mm-hmm. , , that, that's like a life coach telling you what to do, . Yeah. Uh, but if we wanna navigate through change, it's done through asking questions that help others that hold space for others, that they might come to understand what change looks like for. Is, is this fascinating?
[00:10:24] James Marland: Is this gonna be your third?
[00:10:25] James Marland: Is this gonna be your third Ted Talk ? Because it sounds awesome. I would
[00:10:28] Michael Ashford: be lying if I, I would be lying if I said I hadn't submitted that topic to a few Ted Exits . And it is,
[00:10:34] James Marland: it's very interesting. Like you had my attention, uh, right away. Yeah. The psychology of change. Okay. So, awesome. Well, thanks for that wonderful introduction.
[00:10:43] James Marland: Um, of course, I'm already really learning and enjoying this conversation, so let's get into our segment on, uh, tool Tip and Tech of the Week. I, I, uh, I'll go first. And I, uh, downloaded an audible book, um, two weeks notice from Amy Porterfield. And the first tip, it's like I'm only a chapter in, but one of the first tips she, she gave was like, you to start something new, you have to believe in yourself a fraction more than you doubt.
[00:11:15] James Marland: And that just really resonates with me because, oh, you mentioned imposter syndrome in the beginning. I'm a recovering of imposter syndrome, , uh, uh, client or whatever. Like I have that in spades and I'm always comparing myself to other people and what other people do, or talking myself down, like those negative thoughts.
[00:11:37] James Marland: But I do believe in myself and just having the permission to believe in. not a whole lot more, you know, not like, oh, I have super confidence and I'm the best at everything, but just, I believe in myself more than my doubts. Give myself permission to believe in myself just a little bit more. And I think that tips the scales and allows me to move forward where my, my instinct would be like, stay safe.
[00:12:08] James Marland: Stay, you know, stay in your comfort zone. Don't make wave. . Um, and, but if you don't make waves, you don't make changes and you don't make, you know, progress. So, uh, that was my, um, that was my tip from Amy Porterfield two weeks notice.
[00:12:25] Michael Ashford: That's great. That's great. Do you know, it's so much, so much, James. Is, is, um, so much of life is, is a continuum or a spectrum rather than a, a yes no, b.
[00:12:37] Michael Ashford: So many people look at, well, I'm, I'm a confident person, or I'm not a confident person. That's a yes no binary. Um, I, I look at the same way with curiosity and asking questions. I'm not a curious person or I am a curious person. Well, no. Those things are, those things are a practice, not a trait. Like the fact that I don't have hair, that's a trait, but I can be a cur, I can be just a, a slightly more curious person.
[00:13:03] Michael Ashford: I can practice being a more curious person. I can practice being a more confident person. and that leads me down the road to improving in my confidence rather than saying, you know, I reached this destination where all of a sudden I am a confident person. That's not how the world works. Mm-hmm. . So I I love that tip.
[00:13:20] Michael Ashford: I love that. That's, that's great, .
[00:13:23] James Marland: Well, thank you. So what, uh, what is your tool, tip or tech of the week? .
[00:13:28] Michael Ashford: Yeah. Um, you see on the wall behind me, the word respectful. Mm-hmm. , and I mentioned earlier our show here at the receptionist. Our podcast is called The Fabric Podcast, and Fabric is actually our core values as a company.
[00:13:41] Michael Ashford: Fun, authentic, bold, respectful, innovative, and collaborative. Happy accident that it spelled out the word fabric. Mm-hmm. , but those are our core values that we live. That we, that every single person in this company knows and understands well, the word respect or respectful behind me, there's a definition under the, underneath the word respectful that, um, we characterize as under the phrase assume positive intent.
[00:14:07] Michael Ashford: Mm, assume positive intent of someone else. Um, even when you disagree, even when there is conflict present, assume that your coworker in this. Wants what's best for the company. They want what's best for us as an organization and in so many companies we see in fighting, we see people jockeying for position, uh, to do what's best for them and their career or them and their department.
[00:14:38] Michael Ashford: Perhaps if we go into a conversation where we know we disagree, but we're assuming positive intent, we're not going. . We're not going in from a place of fighting about what we disagree on. We're going in from a position of understanding that we both have similar or common values or goals. and we can work through that.
[00:15:04] Michael Ashford: We're now coming at it from a place of collaboration, which the sea in fabric is collaborative. We're now coming at it a place where we're we put on our problem solving hat rather than our, you know, I'm going to win and beat you hat. Right. If that makes any sense. So yeah, you're on the same side. This can extent.
[00:15:22] Michael Ashford: You are, you're, you're on the
[00:15:23] James Marland: same, same team doing the same things Exactly. With the same goals.
[00:15:27] Michael Ashford: Yeah. . Exactly. So assume positive intent and, and how would your life change if you did that more, not just at work, but in all aspects of your life? If you assumed positive intent of human beings, how would your life?
[00:15:45] James Marland: uh, we should pause for 30 seconds. . . And just like, think about that for a second. Like, how would your relationship with your partner be, your relationship with your boss, the relationship with your coworkers, your children, the, the people who cut you off in traffic, you know? Mm-hmm. , everyone. Um, if, if we could assume positive intent, how would our life be?
[00:16:10] Michael Ashford: Oh. here. Here's one. James, what would, how would your life change if you assumed positive intent of a politician you disagreed with, I wildly uncomfortable to think about and do , but how would your life change? How would your life change? ?
[00:16:28] James Marland: Uh, uh, I'm short circuiting right now. Uh, I'm gonna have to write that one down and just think about it, but I, I, I agree.
[00:16:37] James Marland: Um, I. I think I, I learned that from the book, crucial Confrontations or maybe Crucial Conversations. Um, it's up on my wall. That's why I was looking up. For those of you who are in the video show, , uh, just like if you don't come, come there. What you in the problem of not assuming po positive intent is you fill it with fears or you fill it with the negative stuff.
[00:17:01] James Marland: If you're not assuming positive intent, the, the absence of. You make up stories in your head and what stories, yes you do. Do we make up, well, they're trying to cheat me or they're, the absence of knowledge leads to something negative and so that does not lead to anything positive, especially when you're disagreeing.
[00:17:25] Michael Ashford: So you nailed it. You nailed it. James . Thanks. Great stuff, .
[00:17:30] James Marland: Alright, well, okay. Wow. Uh, we, we could have like three shows here, but we're gonna move into our main segment with Michael because, uh, I met him and he talked about what, uh, the receptionist and because we're a podcast for therapists who are trying to grow in scale and one of the ways they grow on skills systems.
[00:17:53] James Marland: what are the systems that you can put in place that make your job easier, quicker, cheaper, or just better? You know, it doesn't have to be cheaper if you love your life more because you put it in and he was talking about his, um, the, the, the company, the receptionist. So I'm gonna let him talk about that.
[00:18:11] James Marland: And also the problem, like what is the problem in therapy offices today, or offices in general with. With receptionist. So, uh, can you talk, talk about that, Michael?
[00:18:25] Michael Ashford: Of course. James, I can talk about this all day long. . Uh, so, uh, let me, let me tell you a story. Um, yeah. Let's say you are a therapist. You're listening to this show right now, I'm assuming that you are or some sort of private practitioner.
[00:18:42] Michael Ashford: Um, so you're sitting in your, you're sitting in your office, the door is closed, the white noise machine is going, you're sitting in the office with, uh, a current patient or client. You're having a great session and you happen to glance at the clock on the wall and notice that you've got five minutes left.
[00:18:59] Michael Ashford: And so you're, you're thinking about how do we wrap this up? How do we, how do. Kind of bring this to a head and you hear the door outside in your lobby or your, your front office open and close, and you've still got five minutes left with this, with this patient in front of you, but now your attention is divided.
[00:19:20] Michael Ashford: Who just walked in that door? Was it your next appointment? Um, do they know what to do? Do they know where you're at? Do they, do they, it could be a new person, the somebody you've never met before, and they have no idea what they're walking into. Is it somebody coming in for the first time for services or to, to learn more about your business?
[00:19:38] Michael Ashford: So it's a potential new prospect walking in just off the street. Um, is it de, is it a delivery? is your lunch here, ? You know, and, or, or you know, your Amazon package. It's, it's, it's delivered there. And it's the thing that you were waiting on. Uh, if it, if it's food, that's the thing I'm always waiting on.
[00:19:55] Michael Ashford: Mm-hmm. , but you don't know. And so all of a sudden, as a, as the practitioner, as the therapist, your level of anxiety goes up and now your attention is divided between the person right in front of you. Mm-hmm. and who just walked through that door and do they know? What to do. Mm-hmm. , that, that is the story that we hear over and over and over again in terms of what therapists and private practice owners, uh, struggle with all the time.
[00:20:28] Michael Ashford: So we often hear the story of, I have to interrupt my patient and poke my head out and see if it's my, my patient. And if you're in a, a group practice or if you're in a, a practice with maybe two or three therapists, all three of you are doing it. Oh, is it my patient? Nope, not my patient. So you have this kind of like, Crick your neck around the corner to see, and then you have that awkward confrontation of, oh, you're not my patient.
[00:20:51] Michael Ashford: Uh, I'm just gonna slink back into my office now. Somebody will be right with you. Ian,
[00:20:56] James Marland: ahead. I, well, I've, I've gone to some therapy sessions where they do that. They come out check, but. often, because often that that last 10 minutes of a session is super critical. Yes. Like it is where somebody, this always happens.
[00:21:12] James Marland: Somebody shares, they drop, you know, you got five minutes left in the session and they dropped the bomb that they should have dropped 10 minutes ago. So now you're trying to do, or 30 minutes ago, so now you're trying to do damage control and then somebody comes in, you pop out, and then the moment is broken.
[00:21:29] James Marland: and you, you never get back to it or you don't make the points, or you, they feel, um, the client doesn't feel res, uh, valued or respected, and then they like clam up and you're like, oh, what happened? It's, it's that break in the last five or 10 minutes that can be, um, detrimental to, to the therapy.
[00:21:53] Michael Ashford: Absolutely. I mean, in my own, in my own therapy, uh, you know, , when I've been in therapy, I've experienced that same thing. So you're, you're absolutely right James. And we hear that all the time. Uh,
[00:22:04] James Marland: yes. I, I, oh man. I, I used to work with some psychiatrists who were, you know, they're busy people and. if the scheduling got messed up and they were on call during the same time they were doing therapy and they had to take a call during the session or just even just a minute, it, it just changed the mood of the, the room.
[00:22:27] James Marland: And, uh, that is, that is a significant issue.
[00:22:31] Michael Ashford: You're so right, . So our system helps alleviate. that, that scenario that, that I just laid out for you mm-hmm. , that you confirmed for me, James. Oh yeah. I've experienced it as, as a problem that that is what our system helps solve. So we are a visitor check-in system.
[00:22:51] Michael Ashford: Um, now we, we serve many different industries and many different companies and, and company types, but. . We have hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of therapy offices that use us for that exact scenario that no longer do I have to break my attention away from the person right in front of me, my patient, right in front of me to go check the front door.
[00:23:13] Michael Ashford: Because when that person walks in, they're greeted with an iPad kiosk that says, tap here to check. and they check in, they find a picture of who they're there to check in. They maybe input their initials so that, um, so that the, the person who's notified knows who's next, who's coming up, and then that practitioner receives a te, a text or an email, or perhaps a Slack message, um, that lets them know, Hey, your next appointment's arrived.
[00:23:45] Michael Ashford: it's setting expectations. The person, the, the therapist has set the expectation that, Hey, I'm with you right now. Mm-hmm. in this session. I'm gonna be here till the end. And the person who just walked in the door has the expectation set that I have. I've been checked in my practitioner, my therapist knows that I'm here.
[00:24:04] Michael Ashford: I can sit and enjoy the hot tea or the hot coffee. I can flip through the magazine. I can perhaps watch. The, the TV screen, if you've got one, like we can now begin to reduce some of the anxiety around the process of walking into the office. That, uh, so many folks, I think, experience without a system like ours.
[00:24:22] Michael Ashford: So that is what our system does. Is, is, is it is literally a visitor check-in system that checks in someone and notifies the therapist that they are, uh, next appointment has arrived.
[00:24:33] James Marland: Yeah. Uh, especially in the offices where there isn't a person there, it's just, you know, a r a waiting room with offices around.
[00:24:41] James Marland: yes. People could come in and it says, sit down. Somebody will be with you shortly. But how do you know? Like I've heard horror stories of people waiting for 15, 20 or more minutes and, and nobody's, nobody's even there. Or their therapist isn't there in the office. They thought it was a Zoom meeting, and so then, then, then they're just waiting and it's just not a great customer.
[00:25:06] James Marland: Experie. . Um, and, and you, you did bring out the anxiety because going to a therapy office sometimes isn't the most comfortable thing to do. You're already anxious. Right? And if you have to worry about is, does somebody even know I'm here? You it, it's gonna heighten the anxiety and, uh, I think, um, Oh man. I can't remember what book or where, where I read this, but the, the user experience coming into the office sets up the, the success of the therapy session.
[00:25:44] James Marland: Like if, if, if you can find parking, if the parking lot is clean, if you have a good reception, you know, a good system for checking people and people tend to. Follow the instructions of the therapist or their doctor more than if they had a bad experience. You know, somebody checked them in and it was rude.
[00:26:07] James Marland: Uh, they waited for a long time and then they're like, oh, your, your appointment isn't for another hour because they got the time wrong. Like, that whole experience impacts the success of the appointment. Have you, have you done, does that track with.
[00:26:25] Michael Ashford: Oh, absolutely. What the therapist that we work with, I am blown away by how much attention to detail they put into the entirety of the patient experience.
[00:26:38] Michael Ashford: Mm-hmm. Yeah. Patient experience from, from, from the, the way the couches are, or chairs are set up in the front lobby to the, the way that their office furniture is arranged and the plant types that they have in there, and the lighting and the music. And, and even down to the, the confirmation emails that they get, letting him know like, Hey, your appointment's been scheduled.
[00:27:01] Michael Ashford: Like, they care. Naturally. I would expect this of a, of a therapist , right? They care so much about the patient experience. This just happens to be one of those areas where they're, they have struggled. Historically, I feel like to, to find a solution that works for them. You know, we hear all the time people like trying to manipulate ring doorbells, , oh.
[00:27:24] Michael Ashford: Um, as a, as a kind of a solution to this or, you know, have a, have a, an actual ring bell that you tap mm-hmm. and it rings out to let somebody know it's one less thing that someone has to think about when they're coming into your office. Mm-hmm. , because, and I can, I know this from my own therapy, experie.
[00:27:43] Michael Ashford: you have so many things going through your mind in terms of what you want to talk to your therapist about. Mm-hmm. , that if you keep adding on things that I have to think about or be worried about, does my therapist know I'm here? Mm-hmm. . Mm-hmm. , um, , you know, how do I check in? Uh, where do I go? What office are they in?
[00:28:01] Michael Ashford: If you're in, in a multiple office situation mm-hmm. , if I can take those things off the plate for my clients. that, like you just said, James makes the entirety of the experience so much more enjoyable. I'm in such a better mindset going into the appointment than had I had all these other things to think about that were kind of piling up as I'm thinking about what I want to talk to my therapist about
[00:28:26] James Marland: Yeah, it's just one, one more. One more thing that says you're important, you matter. You're, yeah, you're gonna have a good, you know, we're gonna treat you right here. It's not the only thing, but it. One more message to communicate. You're
[00:28:40] Michael Ashford: important. And, and here's, here's something that we, we have noticed and heard from a lot of our, our customers in this space as well, that I think is super, super important.
[00:28:51] Michael Ashford: Um, so many therapists and, and psychologists, they're, they're in private practice. It's their business. They're doing it on their own. You know, there are of course, large group practices or, or large social work settings where, you know, a lot of people get their feet wet, but then it, I think a lot of people in this space wanna break out and start their own private practice, right?
[00:29:12] Michael Ashford: Mm-hmm. . Well, you become a business owner at that point. You're not just a therapist, you're a business owner, and you've gotta manage and run the business as much as you have to run your therapy sessions. And one of the things that we hear from our customers is that having a system like this in place that looks great, that flows wonderfully, that presents a level of professionalism to the, to the clients walking in the door.
[00:29:39] Michael Ashford: I heard this from one of our customers, um, Kelly Ul. She runs Bloom Counseling and Nutrition up in Fort Collins, Colorado. She said having a system like this made me feel legitimate as a business owner. Mm-hmm. like, yes, I'm a good therapist and I can help people and, and I do a great job helping people there.
[00:29:59] Michael Ashford: But on the business side of things, the things that I didn't go to school for, having a great professional looking system in place made me feel. Yeah. And that's important for a private practice owner or, or a the, and you don't even have to be in private practice. You can be in a group practice mm-hmm.
[00:30:17] Michael Ashford: and, and feel that level of ness. Yeah. When you have a system that, that thinks about the entirety of the patient experience like this one does, I bet that's
[00:30:28] James Marland: one thing that therapists love about the system, like feeling professional and, and feeling. like you, you have something , some system in place that communicates your professionalism.
[00:30:40] James Marland: What are some other things the therapists might love about the system? ,
[00:30:45] Michael Ashford: uh, it's the other, the, the main way that therapists get noticed or notified, excuse me, of, of patient's arrival is through text message. Mm-hmm. . And so they can be anywhere in their building or they can be, you know, still running in from the parking lot and get that message and you have the ability to just shoot a quick message back like, Hey, I'll be right.
[00:31:08] Michael Ashford: Um, where does that
[00:31:09] James Marland: message message go? Does it go to their, the client's cell phone? It can go
[00:31:13] Michael Ashford: back to the, it can go back to the iPad? Yeah. Oh, it can go to the iPad. Okay. You can go back to the iPad. Um, but if a, if a, let's say a therapist is just finishing up notes from the last session and they're not quite ready yet, um, then that can be a great help to just let the person know, like, Hey, be there in two minutes.
[00:31:31] Michael Ashford: Mm-hmm. , uh, they love the fact that they can put their faces. mm-hmm. in the system so that the, the client knows who they're seeing. Mm-hmm. , especially for the first time. Yeah. You know, again, oh yeah. Like coming in for the first time and maybe I saw your, your picture on your website, but people look different in professional headshot versus how they actually show up in real life.
[00:31:53] Michael Ashford: We all know that. And so if I can do that, then I can, I can attach a face to a. Mm. Our clients absolutely love that. Um, and one part, one aspect that we've, we've kind of touched on, but we haven't like, really called it out immediately is they love the fact that it reduces that patient anxiety, that it's one l like I said earlier, it's one less thing for the patient to, to have to, to worry about.
[00:32:19] Michael Ashford: So they, the, the therapist knows when their patient has arrived and the, the patient knows. , I, someone knows I'm here. . Yeah. That's a, that's big. And that the therapist is not wasting time. You know, maybe they didn't hear the door open and close, but some, I, I, this has been my experience. I walked into my therapist's office and I sat there for a good 10 minutes.
[00:32:44] Michael Ashford: It's, it's 10 minutes past my appointment time and my therapist walks out and he goes, oh, Michael, I didn't even know you were here. Yeah, I didn't hear you come. So again, it's just now you're cutting into their hours. Maybe you're, you're , maybe you have to backfill at some point. Mm-hmm. , it just, it can cause headaches.
[00:33:02] Michael Ashford: So, um, yeah, it's, I I, I go back to, I keep using the word anxiety, you know, not, not in a clinical sense mm-hmm. , but it's just a heightened level of this on Edgeness that I think people feel that we can help reduce. There are ways we can help reduce. . Great.
[00:33:22] James Marland: Uh, what about, what, uh, what about the clients? Do, do you get any feedback from the clients about the system?
[00:33:29] James Marland: The, uh, the, the, the clients of the therapist? What do they say about the system? Yeah.
[00:33:34] Michael Ashford: Well, our, our customers, so the therapists tell us that, uh, people love it because one of the things that they don't like doing, if there is somebody at the front desk, um, or if there are other people in. waiting area.
[00:33:49] Michael Ashford: Mm-hmm. , they don't like saying out loud who they are and who they're there to see. Again, it's just one less thing that they have to worry about. Yeah. So if they can discreetly check in on the iPad, type in their initials maybe, or, you know, first initial, uh, or first name, last initial to, to be compliant there.
[00:34:09] Michael Ashford: Um, and then let their therapist know in a discreet. . They can just, they can just be there. And I think that's what so many people, um, we hear is our patients just wanna show up and they wanna get into the session as quickly as possible without really being noticed. . Mm-hmm. . Um, and, and I've had, I've had therapists.
[00:34:30] Michael Ashford: tell me like that's something that we wanna help them work through is a little bit of that social anxiety, but we wanna get them there. Uh mm-hmm. , we don't wanna add to that social anxiety with, with our check-in process. So, uh, we get feedback all the time that, that the people actually checking in the, the customers, the, the clients I should say love it because of just the, the ability of being seen and the ability of being discreet with their check-in.
[00:34:54] James Marland: Yeah. And we, we've hit it a couple times, but just removing the fear. Does anybody know I'm here?
[00:35:01] Michael Ashford: Yeah. That's, that's the number one problem. Yeah. That our, our system helps solve for the, for the client. For the customer. Yeah. So,
[00:35:11] James Marland: uh, maybe we've covered some of this, but we, we are the, the scaling therapy practice.
[00:35:15] James Marland: So how would a system of the receptionist, how would the, that type of system help a therapy practice or just an individual, you know, grow and scale their, their
[00:35:26] Michael Ashford: business? It gives you your time. It gives you back time. Is, is what I would say is the, the biggest outcome of all of this. You as the therapist are not getting up from your seat to leave your appointment or to leave taking, finishing up your notes to go check and see if your next appointment is there.
[00:35:45] Michael Ashford: Um, you don't have somebody. Who's in charge of checking in people. Perhaps that's a cost savings or something that you simply can't afford, but you want a, a nice professional way to check in people, saves you time, saves you money there. Uh, and, and then again, I think there is something really valuable in, and we hear it all the time, this, this notion of feeling more legit as a business owner.
[00:36:10] Michael Ashford: Um, that is, that is really important when you're trying to grow and scale. Your business is feeling like. You've got some answers. You're a great therapist and, and you wanna be a great business owner too. And, and having systems in place that allow you to be more efficient with your time, that allow you to, um, provide a better experience for your customers, for your patients, all helps you grow and scale.
[00:36:38] Michael Ashford: If you offer up a great experience for your clients, they're gonna tell other people. And I know the therapy world is a little bit. Different in the terms of referrals and, and you know, how you can actually share information about , about your clients. Yeah. We, we wanna keep the, that private, but I know I've told people that my therapist is great, you know that, but that's on me that, and, and it's because I've had, you know, wonderful experiences and if we can provide more of that then, then our businesses.
[00:37:10] Michael Ashford: Yeah.
[00:37:10] James Marland: Uh, people, people will share their positive experiences, but they will definitely share their negative experiences. Oh, yeah. . Oh man. I waited 30 minutes and nobody checked me in. Or like, or the other side, Hey, I have this problem with my, my child. Oh, well I know a great therapist. You know, and I had a great experience there.
[00:37:30] James Marland: They, they'll definitely share when prompted.
[00:37:33] Michael Ashford: Um, yes, they will. Yes, they will.
[00:37:36] James Marland: So, Can, can I, can I ask about cost? Like how much does this cost? Of course.
[00:37:43] Michael Ashford: Of course. Uh, yeah. Um, what does this cost? So our, all, all of our pricing is on our website, so we're very transparent there. So we price based on how many employees are in the system, who could be notified of a visitor's arrival.
[00:37:58] Michael Ashford: So for most therapy offices, you're gonna be on our cheapest tier, which is zero to 20. Employees in the system, and that is $49 a. As of recording this episode, $49 a month. Now, if you sign up for a free [email protected] and you mentioned this show, uh, we'll give you your first month free. Okay? So, uh, not only will you get the 14 day free trial, but then we'll give you a month free on top of that, uh, just for, uh, being a wonderful listener of this show.
[00:38:30] Michael Ashford: So we'll save you a little bit of money there as well, . Okay,
[00:38:32] James Marland: good. Because when I, when I first went to your website and I saw like the. Was like $500. I'm like, $500 a month. I'm not
[00:38:41] Michael Ashford: sure. Oh, that's annually. Yeah. . I know, I
[00:38:44] James Marland: know. I'm like, I, I was, I was thinking, oh, $500. It's not too bad, but it seems a little more than what I thought I'd need to be a group practice.
[00:38:52] James Marland: But then I, I realized my mistake. It was, it was like 50 bucks or something a month. 49 you said? For the, the, the smaller package, and I'm like, . Okay. That's not, that's, it's, it, it start, the wheels started turning. Like, that seems affordable, especially if you're looking for a, um, like a, a nice way to check people in.
[00:39:15] James Marland: Um, and it's cheaper than if you can't afford. So I worked in the virtual assistant world and a lot of people were trying to figure out how to, um, how, how to do the check-in without hiring somebody, cuz hiring somebody. You know, when you're just starting out, you don't have enough, you know, you don't necessarily have enough resources to put somebody at a desk the full time, so what's the alternative?
[00:39:41] James Marland: Right? Um, and, and as you said, a lot of people came up with some weird things with the ring doorbell or, you know, lots of, lots of, lots of different ways to do it that weren't quite professional. So yeah, that absolutely. Yeah. That seems, um, . Anyways, all I wanted to say was, it's cheaper than I thought it would be.
[00:40:02] James Marland: That's well, good. Good. Yeah. My, my, my, my, my, uh, my, my story was, I thought it was a lot, like, I was like, oh, it might be worth it for four or $500, but actually it's much cheaper. So that was my story when I looked it up. ,
[00:40:17] Michael Ashford: uh, what are other annual cost actually includes another month free, so, okay. You could get up to two months free if you wanted to just pay for a full year, but, uh, okay.
[00:40:25] Michael Ashford: Yeah. Make sure you mention this show ,
[00:40:27] James Marland: uh, the scaling therapy practice. So, um, the scaling, what are, what are other costs? Like do you, do you provide the iPad or do they have, can they use any iPad? Like how, how does that
[00:40:37] Michael Ashford: work? , as long as it's running, um, the most recent, uh, iOS mm-hmm. and two versions prior.
[00:40:45] Michael Ashford: We'll, so we'll support that. You can source your own iPad. You can source your own kiosk. We do sell those. They're, they're called a receptionist in a box and it comes fully assembled. You just turn on the iPad, download the app, and you're ready to go. Um, but. , if you wanted to source all that yourself and find maybe a used iPad.
[00:41:02] Michael Ashford: Mm-hmm. , we have a lot of customers that do that. Um, and, uh, find a, a, a simple stand on Amazon, for instance. Mm-hmm. . Uh, we have a lot of customers to do that, but, uh, again, we do sell those packages, but, uh, you know, there are, there are cheaper alternatives. Okay. As well. I'll say , but if
[00:41:20] James Marland: somebody just wants the, other than that, only one, what?
[00:41:24] James Marland: Well, if just somebody is like, I don't wanna take the time, just please just sell it to me. You have those options. .
[00:41:32] Michael Ashford: Absolutely we do. Yes. And we, that's, we call it receptionist in a box. We also refer to it as our easy button, . Mm-hmm. . So, uh, you can just click it, buy it, and it shows up as your door a few days later and you're ready to go.
[00:41:44] Michael Ashford: Um, but other than that, yeah. That, that's the only other cost, uh, support is included. We trademarked the phrase radical support. Uh, so we, we do support a little bit differently here. Some days you may find our c e o our, our. President and ceo, Andy Alsup answering a support chat. Mm-hmm. everyone at some. is involved in support in the entirety of the company.
[00:42:07] Michael Ashford: And, uh, we, we believe in supporting our customers in a way that they've never been supported before, no matter what system that they're using. So put put us to the test and share your favorite gift in a chat. We love to share gifts. .
[00:42:20] James Marland: Awesome. Uh, so I'm, I'm just, just to clarify, it just works on iPad, I guess not any other correct system.
[00:42:28] James Marland: Yes. Okay. So it has to be an iPad. . All right. Um, you got it. Before, before we wrap up this segment, anything else you wanted to share about the receptionist or anything we didn't really cover that you, that, um, would be beneficial?
[00:42:42] Michael Ashford: Um, you know, we just created a guide that we're really proud of here. Um, it's called Level Up Your Private Practice, and it is, we did it in partnership with an organization called hushmail.
[00:42:53] Michael Ashford: I'm sure many of your listeners, I'm sure you're, you're familiar with them. Uh, wonderful. Uh, HIPAA compliant email service here in the, in the space. Uh, we did, we created this guide in partnership with hushmail, and what it is, is it's a, it's a guide of all the ways that we as, as our companies. So the receptionist in Hushmail have grown and scaled our businesses, and now we're, we're we packaged it in such a way that it makes sense for the therapy space.
[00:43:20] Michael Ashford: Um, and for folks starting up a private practice, how do you think about marketing, understanding that you have different. Different things that you're regulated by HIPAA being one of them. Um, how do you think about growing and scaling your business through speaking opportunities? Um, you know, what do you, what do you put on your website?
[00:43:38] Michael Ashford: How do you think about search engine optimization? All these things that we've learned, we want to give that to you all. So it's a free guide. I'll share the link with you, James, so you can, uh, throw in the show notes. But,
[00:43:49] James Marland: I mean, I went, I went as you were talking about, like, that sounds awesome. So I, I threw it in the chat, so I'm, I'll be getting that soon for myself.
[00:43:59] James Marland: I'll put it in the show notes. Um, we love ideas like that on how to grow and scale your business and learning from other people. I mean, that's one of the big things about this show is other people have done it and they're sharing their stories of how they're succeeding, and I really have been enjoying this conversation.
[00:44:16] James Marland: The system, like I love systems, I love set it and forget it type systems. I love things that make my life easier and save me time. So this, this, uh, this product was right up my alley. Um, and now I have something to, if somebody asked me, Hey, what should I do about receptionist? I have another, you know, tool in the toolbox to refer to
[00:44:40] Michael Ashford: people.
[00:44:41] Michael Ashford: You know, as the marketing director. I love hearing that, James. So , thank, thank you, sir. I appreciate
[00:44:48] James Marland: it. . Oh yeah. Yep. Well, you're, uh, so, so let's, uh, let's move to our one thing. Uh, what's one thing you want the audience to know? About your, uh, the, about the show. Just one th one takeaway from the show. And normally I have my takeaway already in my head, but I've been like, enthralled in this conversation and I forgot that I had to start thinking about a one thing
[00:45:13] Michael Ashford: Um, well I can go first if it has to. Uh, if you have
[00:45:17] James Marland: it. If you have it good, it'll give me a second to. To, to go through all the great content. . I've been taking notes, I don't know if you've seen me in the video, like I should've taken notes, but, uh, yeah. What's your One thing? Um,
[00:45:30] Michael Ashford: my one thing is, um, uh, I guess I, I got a little bit of confirmation that the, the things that we hear from therapists and other private practice owners in this space is, is actually a shared problem or a shared story.
[00:45:46] Michael Ashford: Um, many. Folks in this space experience the things that you and I just kind of lamented about a little bit here, James, for the last 30, 45 minutes or so. Um, so it, it is a very real thing. That's, that's my takeaway is that the problem that we're, we're trying to solve here at the receptionist is a very real thing that affects people's ability to do their job to the best of their ability.
[00:46:12] Michael Ashford: And, and that's my takeaway away is like, this is, this is a legit thing. And, um, you know, One customer of ours who, who I spoke with said, while, while it can be difficult to invest money in in systems, it's always been worth it for her because of the time that she got back, because of the ways that she was able to divert her time and attention to things that that mattered most in terms of actually going and growing the business, fighting new clients, um, promoting her services.
[00:46:45] Michael Ashford: Yes, the initial like cost may, may cause a little lump in your throat, but she said it's always been worth it. And the receptionist for iPad is, is included in that, in that list of things that has been worth it for her. So that's my takeaway.
[00:47:02] James Marland: Cool. Well, I wanna say it's assumed positive intent, but, um, I'm gonna, because my one thing is I think that's key for relationships, but.
[00:47:14] James Marland: as we move forward. I think owning the customer experience was what kind of hit me. Mm-hmm. , uh, you can do a lot of little things to create the environment for your customer, for the person coming into the office that demonstrates you matter. You're important, you're gonna have a good time here, even before you say.
[00:47:36] James Marland: and having a friction-free check-in process, um, is just one part of that customer owning the customer experience so that, that you, they can have, um, be in their best position to receive the service that you're delivering to them. So that is my one thing. Own the customer
[00:47:54] Michael Ashford: experience. You wanna write some marketing content for me?
[00:47:58] Michael Ashford: James . That
[00:47:59] James Marland: was wonderful. . Oh man. That's all I've been doing.
[00:48:03] Michael Ashford: Uh, wonderful. Yeah.
[00:48:05] James Marland: Uh, okay. Marketing. So la so moving on. Um. Where can we like Michael, thanks so much for joining us. This has been of course, a really exhilarating, uh, talk. I've, I've learned a lot. It's given me a lot to think about. So where can I experience more of your stuff?
[00:48:24] James Marland: Like what, what are the links and places we can go to find more that you have to share?
[00:48:31] Michael Ashford: Yeah. Um, I would say the hub of all things receptionist is the receptionist dot. Uh, and, and again, there, you can sign up for a free trial. You can, uh, find more information specific to behavioral healthcare and, and therapy offices.
[00:48:47] Michael Ashford: Uh, we have a, we have a product tour that walks you through our product. That's a, a short eight minute video. Where you get to, actually, it's hosted by me, . Mm-hmm. , uh, where you get to, to see the inner workings of the system. So go check that out. Um, and then I would say listen to our show. Our, our show. The Fabric Show or the Fabric Podcast is available anywhere you can find podcasts.
[00:49:10] Michael Ashford: And it's, it's diving into and exploring company culture and how that grows and scales as a company grows and scales. So check that out. And then for me, my stuff personally can all be found at my website. It's michael ashford.com. Um, you can find links to my TEDx talks there. If you're interested in it, you can find, of course, my podcast and all that good stuff there.
[00:49:31] Michael Ashford: So michael ashford.com. Great.
[00:49:35] James Marland: Uh, it, it was a wealth of information. Um, Michael, this was an, an amazing interview. Uh, thanks so much for being on the.
[00:49:46] Michael Ashford: Thank you for having me, James. I, I strongly appreciate it very much so, .
[00:49:52] James Marland: All right, well, uh, to the audience, thanks so much for listening. Thanks for spending this, the 40, 40 minutes with us.
[00:49:59] James Marland: I do really appreciate everyone who listens, who shares the show, who, um, r rates and reviews us. It's, uh, it's really. It, it's, it's a pleasure and, uh, to serve you and a passion of mine to help you grow and scale your business. Uh, please check out the receptionist and all the resources, the, they'll all be in the show notes.
[00:50:21] James Marland: The links will be there, the TEDx talks, um, the links to the, to the podcast. So this is James Marlin with Michael Ashcroft with the Scaling Therapy Practice. Uh, just remember to keep making those small steps that lead to big results. We'll see you next.
[00:50:39] Michael Ashford: And.